Spuds to spir­its

Blue Roof Dis­tillers is first farm-to-bot­tle mi­cro-dis­tillery in At­lantic Canada

Sackville Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATIE TOWER STAFF RE­PORTER

Af­ter years in devel­op­ment, Malden’s Devon Strang has opened the doors on Blue Roof Dis­tillers.

It’s taken a lot of hard work and much more per­sis­tence than he ever imag­ined. But Devon Strang’s de­ter­mi­na­tion has fi­nally paid off as he opened the doors of his new busi­ness on the fam­ily farm this month – Blue Roof Dis­tillers.

“It’s def­i­nitely been a long process,” said Strang “There were a lot of hic­cups along the way; we had al­most given up a few times. But we al­ways kind of got a new spark that kept us mov­ing for­ward.”

Now, five years later, Strang is ex­cited to roll out his line of pre­mium vodka, made from pota­toes har­vested from the fam­ily farm. Blue Roof Dis­tillers is one of only a small hand­ful of dis­tillers in the coun­try mak­ing the prod­uct. Strang also points out that it is the first “farm-to-bot­tle” mi­cro-dis­tillery in At­lantic Canada, if not across Canada.

“We are one of the only ones I know of with a truly au­then­tic process from be­gin­ning to end,” said 25-year-old Strang, the founder and CEO of Blue Roof Dis­tillers.

From the plant­ing and har­vest­ing of the pota­toes, through to the mash­ing, fer­ment­ing and dis­till­ing, and even do­ing their own bot­tling and la­belling of their vodka, the en­tire process is all done on the Strang farm in Malden, just a few min­utes drive from the Con­fed­er­a­tion Bridge along the Trans-canada High­way. This al­lows them com­plete con­trol of pro­duc­tion, he said.

The idea to make po­tato vodka came from Devon’s fa­ther Richard, who had been toss­ing around the idea in his head for sev­eral years be­fore sug­gest­ing it to his son. A busi­ness stu­dent at Mount Al­li­son Univer­sity at the time, Strang was in­trigued. But there was one prob­lem – how would they get the po­tato from the field into the bot­tle.

“None of us re­ally knew how to do it,” he said.

Since that time, Strang has trav­elled through­out Canada and the U.S., seek­ing out the ex­perts, do­ing some re­search and ba­si­cally “hon­ing and mas­ter­ing my craft.” He has taken a num­ber of cour­ses, in both fer­men­ta­tion and dis­till­ing with Bio Food Tech at the Univer­sity of P.E.I.; and was also able to tap

into the sci­en­tific ex­per­tise of a re­search chemist from CCNB Ed­mun­ston, who con­ducted a num­ber of stud­ies re­lated to the process that was needed to trans­form whole pota­toes into a high-qual­ity vodka prod­uct.

Strang said per­fect­ing the recipe was the most im­por­tant part.

“We re­ally stressed from the be­gin­ning of the process, we wanted our vodka to taste a cer­tain way or we didn’t want to do it.”

He was adamant about us­ing whole pota­toes, skin and all, rather than send­ing them away to be de­hy­drated or flaked as most other dis­tillers do. This re­quired spe­cial­ized, cus­tom­made equip­ment as well as de­vel­op­ing their own unique way to cook, mash, fer­ment and dis­till the prod­uct; but the end re­sult has all been worth it.

“That’s what gives it its fla­vor pro­file. That’s what makes it unique, dif­fer­ent from other brands.”

Strang said he’s thrilled with “how good it’s turned out” and be­lieves his vodka, which has been gar­ner­ing rave re­views since it hit shelves, can ri­val some of the very best vod­kas avail­able on the market to­day.

“The prod­uct is far su­pe­rior than we an­tic­i­pated,” he said. “Be­cause of that, I think this will take us to places we didn’t fore­see.”

Blue Roof vodka, which is cur­rently avail­able for sale in the farm’s store­front agency lo­ca­tion as well as a num­ber of New Brunswick Liquor agency stores in­clud­ing in Dorch­ester and Port El­gin, is ex­pected to hit New Brunswick Liquor’s cor­po­rate stores over the next week. It is also avail­able in a num­ber or restau­rants and bars across the province.

Blue Roof Dis­tillers will mark their new­found suc­cess with a Grand Open­ing week­end from June 23 to 25. The event, which kicks off with the of­fi­cial rib­bon­cut­ting cer­e­mony on Fri­day at 3 p.m. with the Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, in­cludes tast­ings, tours, prizes and more.

Strang said the Grand Open­ing will not only cel­e­brate the last five years of hard work to open the dis­tillery but also the long­stand­ing tra­di­tion of their sixth-gen­er­a­tion farm, one that is on to a new ad­ven­ture. The name of the dis­tillery, of course, comes from the colour of the trade­mark roofs of the Strang barns and ware­houses.

“Our prod­uct is re­ally about our fam­ily farm,” he said. “So I’m glad we were able to add that per­sonal touch, to link this to show­case our fam­ily her­itage and our story.”

For more on Blue Roof Dis­tillers, visit their Face­book page.

KATIE TOWER – SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE-POST

-FGU UP SJHIU GBUIFS BOE TPO 3JDIBSE BOE %FWPO 4USBOH TUBOE PVUTJEF UIFJS OFX EJTUJMMFSZ JO .BMEFO / # 1SPEVDJOH and bot­tling vodka is the lat­est ven­ture at their fam­ily’s po­tato farm.

KATIE TOWER – SACKVILLE TRI­BUNE-POST

Sul­li­van Cullen bot­tles some of the pre­mium vodka be­ing pro­duced at Blue 3PPG %JTUJMMFST $VMMFO XBT SFDFOUMZ IJSFE BU UIF EJTUJMMFSZ UP IFMQ LFFQ VQ with de­mand for the new prod­uct.

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